Success!

In the past year, my discussions of research have usually been negative. Well, this week turned a new leaf! I was able to replicate the data collected by my colleague two years ago, which he said even he had trouble collecting. Not only that, but I think I am on to an interesting new discovery (we’ll find out tomorrow I hope!)

Also, Laura and I are both still on the losing streak…not as much as last time: she’s down 7 pounds and I’m down 12 so far. It’s fun to experience success on multiple levels at the same time!

Goals + A Fresh Start =

So living in a college town you can’t help but be aware of when school begins.  I don’t know about you, but I always LOVED the start of a new school year.  I am kind of a clothes horse and back to school meant NEW CLOTHES.  Back to school meant a lot of other things too and as I watch all the UofI students move into their dorms and apartments I can’t help but feel joy for their new beginnings.  I remember starting college, having goals, defining who I wanted to be instead of living up to what others wanted of me.  A new school year means a fresh start, who cares what your grades were the year before…it’s like your chalkboard has been erased, well kinda, you always have that GPA thing.  New teachers, new classmates, new subjects, new crushes….AHH the start of a new school year how refreshing!

But wait.  That’s all over for me.  I had my many years of fresh starts and new school years.  So long to goals being set for me and fresh starts around the corner each August.  So long to new teachers, new classmates, new subjects, and easily accessible new friends.  This whole real world thing is a lot tougher than it looked.  Now I need to create my own set of goals, I need to be intentional about making new friends and GASP  I need to start fresh through my own doing, not just because the calendar says a new year begins.

Where do I go from here?  I’ve been asking myself this for the last week.  I’m going to set some goals and actually attain them.  This year I really want to write my “bucket list” and make efforts to accomplish each item.  I’ve started to go through my closet and mix and match clothes to satisfy my “new school clothing” addiction.  (I would encourage everyone to do this, it costs you no money and makes you feel much better about your wardrobe).  And as for a clean slate, I need to forgive those who have wronged me and commit to finding my flaws and turning from them.  This “new year” is filled with possibilities waiting for me to seize them.  I don’t need the structure of academia to define accomplishments, I can do great things this year if I just commit to it.

The equation has many different answers, but for me goals + a fresh start = optimistic hope

Oh and I’m thinking about starting a daily clothing blog…not on here, but at a different address, let me know what you think and what you would want on there, I don’t sew…yet, but I want people to learn the full potential of what they already have.

Yardsale Finds

So my posting has been sporadic, but I’m really going to make a better effort at recording our life this year.  Last Saturday we had the WHOLE DAY to just loaf around and do nothing and I was thrilled.  I convinced Andrew that we should go garage sale shopping.  We each took $10 and OF COURSE I spent like $12 and Andrew spent 50 cents!  I found a glass pumpkin for candy, the game guesstures, and the coolest purchase of them all…a sewing machine for $10, it works, but needs a tune up.  This of course made me decide I needed to sort through all of my stuff and start a box of garage sale stuff to sell.  In organizing I realized I desperately wanted to get a two drawer filing cabinet and GUESS WHAT?? My parents called and told me there was an estate sale selling a filing cabinet for $5 so we snatched it up and cleaned my closet enough to fit it in there.  It was a fun day, at least for me, and we then hung out and shoped at a couple local places.  I look forward to more of these Saturdays in the coming months…thanks to my new jobs!

Losers!!

Andrew and I are officially losers!  Andrew lost 10 lbs in two weeks and I lost a little over 6 lbs.  The diet is starting to show results and I’m starting to wear clothes that have been on vacation for the last year.  We hope to be at our goal weights by Christmas AND have enough self control to make it through the holidays.  Oh and my parents are big losers too.  I think combined we have lost 30 lbs…that’s a small child!

Make your money work for you!

Laura and I are in an interesting, pre-“real world” state for the next year. Being in grad school has been equated to making an investment in education which is expected to return big dividends in the future (according to one website, a Ph.D. earns $2.2 million more over a lifetime than one with a high school diploma, and $1.3 million more than one with a bachelor’s degree). One attitude that we’re practicing right now is to be comfortable living below our means. That’s incredibly difficult when your income barely covers rent, insurance, and food; is it too much to ask for a night out to dinner here or there? But, we’re taking this as a good experience for when we have a larger income (hopefully a year from now!); we’d love to use the extra income for things like charity, traveling to see family more, and investing…

That said, I have a group of friends that are really into investment strategy. None of us are really practicing these principles outright, but as we’re all fairly poor, we’re using this time as an education for the “near” future. Last night, we sat down for a rip-roaring game of CASHFLOW!cashflow

Haven’t heard of Cashflow? Probably because it retails for $195 (my friend got a deal on ebay). It was created by the guy who wrote the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” Despite my skepticism, it was actually a fun and non-cheesy  (pun not intended) game. It reminds one of Monopoly, with the exception that you start out the game with a randomly-assigned life. I was a truck driver, and the others were a lawyer, a doctor, and a teacher. Although I had the lowest salary, the teacher actually had a lower take-home income thanks to higher expenses. To put it into perspective, my salary was $2500, and the doctor was $13000. But the game is designed (correctly, I’m sure) so that a truck driver has a cheaper house, cheaper car, and less general expenses than a doctor. As the game progresses, you earn your income after expenses from a “pay day” roll, but you can also land on either “opportunity” cards or other spots dictating expensive life situations like having a baby or getting a divorce. The goal is to acquire enough assets (real estate, businesses, etc.) using bank loans or your own savings to get out of the “rat race,” which they define as having a passive income (that income not including your salary, say dividends or rental income) greater than your expenses. I guess I picked up the concept quickly, because I was the first (and only) one out of the rat race.

The point that the author (Robert T. Kiyosaki) is making is that everyone should increase their financial knowledge. If people understand that acquiring assets is the path to financial independence (and that assets are not your own home or your car and boat, but income-producing property), they would allow their money to work for them. Another point is that it doesn’t matter which “card” you’re dealt (i.e. truck driver achieves independence leaving doctors and lawyers in the dust).  Granted, in life, like the game, you need to forego “doodads” (new car, boat, luxury vacations) in lieu of acquiring assets. Once your assets provide you enough income to cover your expenses, do whatever you want with the surplus!

There are all kinds of reasons not to follow this advice. “How can I go without buying a new car?” “I want to secure a great lifestyle with a beautiful home and nice cars since I work so hard, not risk my money on investments.” I don’t know what our strategy is going to be, or how we will balance investing with our own needs and wants, but I think it is a conversation everyone should have with themselves or their spouse if they truly want to have financial independence.

Loving Flexibility

This week my internship has been in full swing and I am LOVING the flexibility it brings.  Anytime I can work from home I do it.  Yesterday I did 3 service hours while watching movies in the comfort of my own home.  Also due to a 12 hour day on Monday I get tomorrow off!  I’m looking forward to spending time cleaning and preparing our menu for this weekend.  We are having friends over for brunch on Sunday and I feel like I can finally plan for them coming.  Usually I am forced to throw something together last minute that I am less than satisfied with, but not this weekend!  We have NO PLANS on Saturday and I can’t be more thrilled about sleeping in and doing whatever we want to do!  Oh AND I got to sleep in until 9:00 today, can you even believe it?  I was shocked when Andrew came to say goodbye and I was in my pajamas.  This is the life people!  He did remind me that this is going to be closer to my life once he gets a career so I should never give him a hard time about sleeping past me or leaving after me.  I will do my best, but sometimes jealousy just gets the best of me!  So happy to be in the position I’m in right now, thanks to all who encouraged me to be here!

He’s HERE

My brother arrived last night and I was so excited to see him.  Andrew and I had a game night at our mentor’s home and after wards headed to my parent’s for a  “quick visit.”  Of course the visit turned into an hour catch up session, but I just had to know what was going on with Kevin and of course he had to tell/act out stories.  I’m excited to have a light workload this week so I can spend maximum time with him.  He showed me his Ironman training book last night and Oh My Word, it takes discipline.  Today his workout is a 30 minute SPRINT, hmm I could maybe sprint for 30 seconds!  I’m really looking forward to the next month of spending time with him!  Hopefully even more discipline and inspiration will rub off on me while he is here.

The Arch, Turtle Wrestling, and a Stroll Down Memory Lane

This weekend, as many of you know, Andrew and I went to St. Louis for our One Year Anniversary.    We didn’t have much of a plan, but found a nice hotel on Hotwire and figured the Zoo was free so we at least had a cheap weekend to get away.  Friday we arrived late and as the check in proceeded we found out we had two double beds, Andrew just looked at me like, is that okay?  So I asked the girl if there was ANY WAY we could have a queen or king.  She said no there really isn’t and then my wheels started turning…how could I get us a King sized bed.  I looked at Andrew and said oh well at least this will be a funny story to tell people, that we slept in separate beds on our anniversary trip…She immediately put us in a King.  Thanks front desk lady!

Saturday morning we got up and walked around the corner to St. Louis Bread Company.  After breakfast we took a stroll around and under the arch.  I’ve been up a couple times and am really not impressed,  Andrew is somewhat claustrophobic and hates heights so we quickly decided not to venture to the top.  The two hour wait to get in wasn’t very appealing either.  So we walked under it and headed back to the hotel.  We then headed to the FREE Zoo.  Obviously they have to make money somehow so we had to pay for parking, but other than that it is free.  We decided to take the train around the park and stop and get off at the different exhibits.  This was the only logical choice considering it was almost 100 degrees outside.  We stumbled upon a salad bar for lunch and were able to stick to our south beach diet and have a really cheap lunch at the zoo (double bonus).  The most exciting thing to watch was surprisingly the tortoises.  We watched as one climbed on top of another, woke him up, made him mad and then they proceeded to wrestle for the next 10 minutes as a crowd of 40 gathered around.  People whipped out there phones,cameras and video cameras.  And then the coolest thing I’ve ever seen at a zoo happened.  The angry tortoise flipped the other onto it’s back and the momentum of the downhill drop flipped him over again until he was right side up.  The entire crowd yelled in a way that said,”that tortoise just treated your life.”

After the zoo we were hot and tired and a nap was definitely in order.  Ah the luxury of taking a nap, it’s what vacation is all about.  We got up, got ready and headed over to Calico’s for dinner.  We decided we were going to cheat a little and order a couple chicken dishes that weren’t really cheating and then a HUGE piece of triple chocolate cake a la mode.  We indulged in this rich confection and then both wanted to vomit for the next hour, I guess this diet is working to shrink our stomach’s!  We walked around, found this really cool waterfall fountain thing and sat and talked for the next few hours.  AHH what a refreshing 3 hours of undivided quality time with my favorite person on the planet.

Sunday we went to The Vineyard Church in St. Louis and enjoyed being the guests for a change.  The people were extremely warm and welcoming which makes me want to be more that way in our home church towards new people.  Then we took a stroll down memory lane from my childhood. We went to Casa Gallardo’s for brunch, drove by the house I grew up in, and went to the St. Louis Galleria where we shopped occasionally.

It was a great weekend and I wish I could have a getaway with Andrew one weekend a month.  I know this will not happen, but it would be REALLY nice!

{EDIT} I forgot to mention that we read our time capsule one year papers, it was fun reading the predictions and seeing that we disappointed quite a few people by not having a baby this year.  Sorry Grammy, no twins!  Now we have to wait another 4 years to read the next papers and YES we are waiting.  We like the suspense!

Running Water

So a few minutes ago I asked Andrew to hand me my computer because I needed to, “read 49 blog posts.”  I’m a bit of a blog junkie these days.  He responded with an “Oh my word, I’m going to go pack,” and then handed it over.  As I’m catching up on all the latest fashions, trends, pictures and life stories I start to hear the water run.  Ah the sound of the dishing being done, music to my ears.  I’m spoiled to have a husband that does what needs to be done without ever needing to be asked.  This weekend is our one year anniversary and I really want to focus myself on the little things he does that bring joy to my heart.  All you husbands out there, do something nice for your wife today!

Does it count?

Does it count as a diet if I’m losing weight because I can’t keep anything in my body and I have the constant urge to vomit?  That’s where I’m at right now.  No carbs and high acid is the perfect storm for wreaking havoc on my body.  I just might be modifying this diet soon, or moving on to phase two about a week earlier than I should.  Any suggestions from South Beachers??